Sunday, 30 September 2007

Food Rituals

Nigel Slater has a new book about called Eating for England. Extracts in the Observer the last two weeks. While I'm not sure it does anything to alter our image of bland and inelegent palates it does remind me of the joy of certain childhood pleasures. Particularly those things that come with ritualistic eating patterns.
  1. Egg Custard Tart - Nigel Slater's own methodology is distinctly different from my own - he takes the tart out of the metal casing and cuts it into neat quarters. Personally I would never first take the tart out of its tinfoil - instead nibble the edges off the pastry that hangs over the edge, lick the nutmeggy top off the custardy bit and only then take the tart out of its container and eat it, particuarly savouring the particular thick powdery sort of damp pastry.
  2. Jaffas cakes have to be mentioned when discussing ritualistic eating - the main aim is to get the sponge bit off first, and to suck the remaining orangy bit covered in chocolate - melts in the mouth. Someone should invent a jaffa cake without the cake bit!
  3. Linking in with a biscuit theme - bourbons - a chocolatey joy in a boring biscuit tin, these have to be split and the inner cream licked off first - the remaining biscuit dunked.
  4. Dairylea triangles - total blast from the past (you wouldn't catch me eating them these days). As a kid the only way to eat it was to open the top point of the triangle and suck the 'cheese' out. My favourite dairylea story is of an old colleague and her chums sneaking a round of dairylea triangles into the window display of the snooty framagerie in Highbury Barn over the christmas period.
I hasten to add that none of these techniques should be tackled except in the pricacy of one's own home. They were invented by a kid of five and go with licking the plate after eating pancakes (either that sugared lemony juice on Pancake day or to get up the remains of maple syrup from breakfast pancakes) - things that nobody should know you still enjoy as an adult.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007


I've got a cold. Actually I feel like I'm being attacked by a cold. It came on very suddenly, its making my nose run (well actually stream) so much that blowing it now hurts. My throat hurts. I've snuck into work, even though that's not really a comradly thing to do (spread it all around), hoping they won't notice.

Sunday, 23 September 2007


Is it bad that I can't put into words any passions? Maybe. I had passions in the past - drawing, art, poetry, photography, metal, bones, sex, London, life - being in the moment and ready to experience everything. These have been replaced by inner frustration that manifests itself as some kind of dull ache.

At someone's birthday dinner today someone asked me, or rather grilled me, about what my passions were. There was no satisfactory answer from her point of view. If I don't like my job - just leave it, do something else. Can't afford the house if you give up your job - sell it. Very black and white world.

I used to want to be an artist but I lost my way, and then got a job. I was told once that if I wanted to be an artist I would be it. Maybe so. Now I work for money, and keep interested by learning as much as possible. While it would be possible to give up work and do something else maybe I'm too afraid.

Friday, 21 September 2007

View from a window

Sitting on a bus stuck in bad traffic on Church Street. Staring out the window I notice a fellow ceramics student sitting in a window seat of Mercados staring out. We catch each other's eye and somehow manage to have a conversation that goes a bit like:
Libby: "How are you?!"
Me: "I'm fine. Are you all alone?"
Libby: "No! They're in the loo. Did you go to ceramics class?"
Me: "yes I did!"
Libby: What did you make? The usual vase shape?"
Me: "no long and skinny!"
Libby: "Long and skinny!! For drinking out of?"
Me: "no"
And then the bus lurched forward. We waved goodbye.

Window shopping actually, wandering through Liberties towards the end of the evening, nobody is around, staff are winding down, chatting in corners. The lights are low. On the top floor is an exhibition of contemporary designers using worthless or discarded materials. Trash Luxe.

Chandlier made of lenses from glasses by Stuart Haygarth, the Kebab Lamp by Committee and unusable jewellery made from sugar crystals by Greetje Van Helmond.

Dezeen Magazine

Tuesday, 18 September 2007


Is it lame to want to go to bed at 9.00?
Office move, take 2

So last time we moved - maybe it was March - we, sorry I probably mean I, really annoyed the island colleagues, had the memory stolen from the PC (took 3 months to replace) and didn't have a phone number for several weeks. This time they provided crates, plans and helpful men who hung round directing removalmen and reassuring the being-moved. All the crates I packed at one end arrived uneventfully at the other end. Desks were pre-allocated, phones and PCs set up over the weekend. Two days later, we're all set and working as usual. Still open plan but this time there is a window, with a view of rooftops and the sky. What a luxury that seems! (Is it a bad thing to have such low expectations of one's working environment?)

Sunday, 16 September 2007

An ape plays the drums

What exactly does an ape playing drums to Phil Collins' I hear it in the air tonight have to do with cadbury's dairy milk? I find it a really annoying record, and a fairly annoying advert but I'm strangely hooked on it.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Raise the Alarm

In the middle of a dream about clouds and warm fluffy kingsize duvets, with morning sunlight playing on the far wall of the bedroom and the lids of my eyes, the phone rang. Rudely awakened by my dad's neighbours letting me know his burglar alarm is going off. I drag myself out of bed, worried about three things, where's he gone so early on a Saturday morning, will I walk into a ransacked house, or what if he's not gone anywhere but died in the night. I ring him while I throw on clothes, no answer. I get out of the house, run to catch the bus which fortunately is coming along the road. Get to the house, open up, rush round checking doors, windows and bedrooms. Nobody is here. Nothing is disturbed. Relief.

The neighbours ring round and invite me for a cup of tea. After they had called me the police came round - called by a boy of about 10 who saw a man climbing over their garden wall. 3 burley officers came round and climbed over our shared garden fence from their side to Dad's side - over a step ladder, getting stuck on our climbing rose. They poked around, found nothing can came back again.

We sit in their garden, watch two swans drift past on the canal that's next to their house and talk about art. A kingfisher sits in the low branches of a weeping tree for a moment before flying off with a flash of blue.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Drunk view of the world

A very drunk man hangs between two poles in the aisle of the bus, finally he manages to swing himself into the empty seat next to mine. He smells yeasty. I look out the window. He digs in his bag and fishes out his almost-empty bottle of evian. He shakes it vigorously. Twice. Then opens it and swigs it down. He turns to me and asks me where've I been. His voice is softly irish, he smiles. Happy drunk. "I've been at work". He mishears me - he thinks I say I've been everywhere. "No, at work", I say, and change the subject, "where are you coming from?" "Oh I've been everywhere", he says. "I'm off at this stop, come off with me I'll show you". Nah thanks, I'm going home. A bit teenage can't be bothered really. Still its been a while since I was offered off the bus by a boy.
In the hands of the gods

I've been offered tickets to the premiere, boyfiend told me excitedly. I'm getting ready. You could come down and wave at me from the crowd. Hum, yes, my enthusiasm was astounding.
I have my own opening to go to, thanks anyway, I say, only slightly huffily. Yes its only a work thing, in Peckham, after hours, far from home. But still I'm a more central part of that opening than I would be standing with the celeb-stalking desperados behind barricades in Leicester Square, waving at my own boyfriend. Nose, cut, spite, self. Or something...

Saturday, 8 September 2007


Radio 2 played Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights. Heathcliffa heathcliff... strains wafted into the garden. Joanne, Heather and I were walking along the Regent's Canal towpath between pubs - we'd started at the Narrow Boat and wanted something to eat. Joanne was doing a very impressive impression of Kate Bush. I was joining in but had never realised that she was wailing Heathcliff before (doh). Heather was a bit annoyed by our caterwauling. Rude, I had thought at the time, but accurate.

My neighbour was sitting outside smoking a cigarette. The smell drifted across the garden - not a nose cringing cloud but a feint drift. It reminded me of when my mother would get home from work. From my room way up at the top of the house, with music playing, engrossed in work, I wouldn't hear her come in (soft door shutter). But the smell of her smoking a cigarette would drift up and alert me to her presence in the house. Time to go down and chat. My dad once told me he liked the feint smell of cigarette smoke in the house because it reminded him of her. I hadn't thought about it at the time.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Tube Strike

So began the first rush hour affected. Victoria line not running I got on a bus crowded to its normal capacity and caught the train at Bruce Grove. Expecting it to be packed, it actually was probably as normal. Perhaps being a bit closer to the end of the line means less reliance on the underground or something. Not like living near Green Lanes, when strikes happened the whole road was filled with people trying to get onto buses already jammed full like cattle trucks. Suprised at how comfortable and easy the journey was being, until I came out at Liverpool Street. The frantic rush led up the escalator and across the road to the bus stop. Probably 10 people deep waiting for the next bus, primed for the start, that would be marked by doors opening, leaping forward make room through jostling, crushing on in a desperate attempt to get to work. Went to the stop prior to that one. Fewer people but still a build up would happen. Buses would come, they would get on. Then the build up would happen again. Arriving at 9.10 I eventually got a bus at 9.55. It wasn't because I couldn't get on. It was because th 78 didn't actually come in all that time. You'd think that during a tube strike they could at least get the buses to run on schedule. what a drag.
Shaggy Dog Story

Two pugs and a jack russell run round excitedly as the owners stand and chat. They run up to a big tree. Jack russell stops to cock his leg and mark it. Pugs run round and round. All three run back to their owners. Jack russell's owner pats the black pug on the head. With this encouragement she jumps up and down on her hind legs excitedly, then jumps up and down with her pug friend, then Jack joins in.

They're like children racing, jumping, away from the parents, towards the parents, round the tree. I can almost hear them shouting, "you're it!".

And then Jack gets really excited and mounts the black pug, who's owner rushes over to seperate them, so he turns his attention to the blond pug. Not quite like children after all. Much seperation follows. Final straw when the black pug and Jack shag by the path out of reach of the owners in front of passing strollers. Jack snatched up and marched out of the park in disgrace (back to being like children then).

Monday, 3 September 2007


I don't know whether this is the same housemate I keep chucking out but he looks the same - he has long legs, and his body hangs low one them, and he likes to run across the living room and hide under the skirting board under the radiator (he's trapped in a pint glass in these pictures). I just wish he'd move out for good. But I keep chucking him out and he somehow keeps reappearing.

(Spiders are big this year, aren't they?)

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Berwick Street

Eating a box of food from Beetroot (veggie hippy slop but somehow exactly the kind of thing that hits the spot late on Saturday afternoons), watching the world go by. Stalls of green grocers, and an exotic foreign fruitier. Behind the stalls a doorway with computer written notices telling of a model on the 3rd floor. Looking up there was a red light bulb on the window sill, lit up. No mistaking the kind of modelling she's doing then.

At the table next to me a group of producers and set designers discussed the set of the play they were doing. It was going to involve a chair, not an armchair with loose covers but a chair. A chair that one of them thought wasn't strong enough for the female actor to jump up and down on in a youthful display of joy about love.
Weekend Drivers

I don't normally go on the tube at the weekend - preferring to travel above ground where things can be seen and to avoid the tube travelling equivalent of the Sunday driver - walking too slowly, not knowing the way and my resulting frustration with the pace and tripping over people. Today things had to be done. Faster the better.

It was all going down in Seven Sisters. They were playing reggae music and having a cookout opposite Tescos. Two preachers were urging us to let Jesus into our lives and join them for services at Universal Church of God on Sunday. A couple of eastern bloc alchies were heckling. There weren't the usual Jehova's Witnesses selling the Watchtower at the station.

Four female students had been on a morning shopping trip to IKEA. Between them they had 5 blue bags loaded with stuff and a full length mirror. Getting ready for the new term living in halls presumably.

A big beardy man got on with his new bean bag. He plomped it by the ventilation window and leaned against it. His japanese girlfriend leaned into him. He put his arm over her shoulder and almost rested his hand on her left breast. And then didn't.